As clinicians, we often find ourselves working with our clients to find more rest, more forgiveness, and more compassion in their lives. And often, we forget to find the same for our own. The world around us seems to be facing a darker time than we can remember: families are continuing to be separated at our nation’s borders, natural (and man-made) disasters continue to wreak havoc in various corners of our world, and fear seems to permeate our conversations. In this context where the threshold of fear continues to rise, our clinical work also gets impacted by individuals and families facing uncertainty and multiple stressors. It seems impossible and almost selfish to carve out space and time for our own selves.
It also doesn’t help that #selfcare has become a trendy word and has evolved in its meaning to something that requires economic privilege and resembles self-indulgence. It has come to signify a legitimate excuse to be couch potatoes and binge-watch mindless television in certain contexts, or eat junk food mindlessly for comfort. The irony is, this sort of #selfcare often leaves us less than rejuvenated and reenergized. It often leaves us numb and spent.
Self-care takes intentionality and discipline. It takes work to carve out time in our busy schedules to go exercise or eat a mindfully prepared meal. It takes some level of self-denial to refuse that extra episode on Netflix that will keep us up for another hour rather than getting some sleep. It takes energy to build and maintain a healthy community around us and to meet people whose conversations feed our souls. I know, because I am often guilty of neglecting these practices.
And yet, it is of utmost importance that we care for ourselves in this way to effectively support the burdens of our clients and to resist burning out. It is for the good of our own selves, but also for the good of our work and the good of our clients that we intentionally take time to practice
meaningful and effective self-care.
Please see the following resources on self-care: